Harley-Davidson (HD) entered into an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on June 23, 2022. This relates to all Harley warranties and if you’re a Harley owner this is absolutely must-know information. (see video below)
As part of this agreement, HD agreed to the findings that it had violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act when it forced warranty-holders to buy only Harley-Davidson branded parts or lose warranty coverage. Let’s start by discussing what the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is.
The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act basically prohibits manufacturers from requiring consumers to use only original equipment parts or services to keep their warranty. This means you can service your own motorcycle and use aftermarket parts without automatically voiding your warranty. Now, we’ve preached this for years, which is why we produce our very popular premium Harley tutorial videos such as Harley oil change and service videos, handlebar installs, stereo installs, and much more! And, we have about 600 hundred free videos on the Law Abiding Biker YouTube channel. Start saving money now by wrenching on your own Harley using our very detailed tutorial videos.
Neither Harley nor any other manufacturer can void your warranty for servicing your own motorcycle at home or having a third-party shop service your bike. However, you are required to keep receipts for your oil and filter, etc, and keep track of whom performed the service, which would be you.
A Deeper Dive:
Let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of the FTC settlement agreement. And at the end of this article, I’ll break this down into good’ ol’ biker language and what it actually means for you as a Harley owner.
The FTC filed an administrative complaint against HD for illegally restricting customers’ right to repair their Harley’s. The FTC’s complaint said warranties on HD bikes included terms that made buyers believe their warranty would be voided if they used independent dealers for parts or repairs.
So, the FTC ordered HD to fix warranties by removing illegal terms and recognizing the right to repair, come clean with customers, and ensure that dealers compete fairly with independent third parties. While the FTC took action against Harley-Davidson, the organization does not have the authority to recover consumers’ damages.
A federal lawsuit filed against HD in Wisconsin’s Eastern District Court last week seeks to recover any damages consumers who bought a Harley motorcycle from Aug. 1, 2018, up until now may have faced. A second lawsuit was filed in California's Northern District Court. The lawsuits claim owners paid more for genuine HD parts, as compared to aftermarket parts, in fear of their warranties being voided.
We’ll see what the outcome of these lawsuits will be. So, definitely subscribe to our YouTube Channel for a future update video as this all gets sorted out further in the courts. Remember, every time that subscribe button and bell icon are hit, another biker joins the #BikerRevolution and we’d love to have you be part of it.
If you haven’t already, you must make sure and listen to the Law Abiding Biker Podcast that is still going strong after 9 ½ years! We talk about issues like this, and in a lot more detail and we have a lot of fun doing it. You can listen on any major podcast platform and we even have our own free app for you. Head over to LawAbidingBiker.com/App and choose where you want to listen.
Requirements Of The Agreement:
HD shall not imply or state that:
- A warranty will or may be void due to you using unauthorized or aftermarket parts or services in connection with your motorcycle.
- A warranty will or may be void due to you making a modification to your motorcycle without the HD’s authorization or approval.
- As a condition of warranty coverage, or within the Written Warranty, you must use only genuine Harley-Davidson parts or services provided by authorized service providers.
However, HD may represent, both in its warranty documents or otherwise, that it will:
- Exclude warranty coverage for defects or damage caused by unauthorized parts, service, or use of the vehicle, including defects or damage caused by the use of aftermarket parts. Or, use of the vehicle for racing or competition, and denial of coverage may be based on the installation of parts designed for unauthorized uses of the vehicle, such as a trailer hitch. And, consistent with Harley-Davidson’s July 2017 Consent Decree with the EPA, exclude warranty coverage and deny all warranty claims for functional defects of powertrain components. And, for any Harley-Davidson motorcycle registered in the United States if the vehicle was tuned using a tuning product not covered by a California Air and Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order or that was otherwise approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- HD must identify all consumers who purchased new or used motorcycles still under warranty and notify them of the FTC agreement and its terms. Further, HD must provide consumers with a complete copy of the warranty at the time of purchase.
What Does All This Mean For A Motorcycle Owner?
First, I want to let you know that we did a very popular and highly viewed video about Harley Davidson Warranties and issues some time ago and you’ll definitely want to watch that video after this one to be well educated and understand the issues in their entirety.
So, I mentioned earlier in this article that your warranty cannot be voided if you have your bike serviced at a third-party shop or simply decide to do your own oil changes and services in your own garage, which I highly recommend. You can save yourself a ton of money and have the pure satisfaction of wrenching on your own bike.
The next question is; Can a motorcycle manufacturer void your warranty for installing non-OEM aftermarket parts on your motorcycle, such as headers, mufflers, intakes, handlebars, stereos, cams, and even EFI tuner? They can deny any warranty claim if they determine the aftermarket parts you added to your bike caused the damage.
Let’s start with mufflers as a general example. Let’s say you put aftermarket mufflers on your Harley and the transmission goes bad suddenly. I think it’d be fair to say that mufflers did not cause a transmission failure, so you “should” be covered under a warranty.
Or, you do an aftermarket stereo install and your engine then has a major failure. I think it’d be fair to say that a stereo install has nothing to do with the engine failure and thus you should be covered under a warranty. Now, let’s say you do a cam upgrade and afterward the engine has a catastrophic failure to a push rod. I think it’d be fair to say that the new cam upgrade caused the engine failure and you’d not be covered under a warranty.
The real question then is, does simply doing a non-motor upgrade like stereo install or handlebars for example, automatically void your powertrain warranty or overall warranty? No, those upgrades do not affect the powertrain, thus you should not have your warranty voided.
The next question is, does simply doing a powertrain upgrade such as a cam upgrade for example, automatically void your powertrain warranty? No, not by itself, however, you must remap your EFI after an upgrade like that and if you were to use a non-EPA compliant tuner, your powertrain warranty will be automatically voided by Harley-Davidson. You see, when Harley dealerships plug your bike into Digital Technician II for diagnostics it auto-detects whether the bike has a tuner, and then it will be determined whether it is EPA compliant. Digital Technician II automatically sends the detected tuner information to the Harley-Davidson mothership so to speak and your power train warranty is voided immediately if it’s not compliant.
Now, in regards to Harley-Davidson and other motorcycle and auto manufacturers for that matter, the EFI tuner issue is because of pressure and fines from the EPA, who is making them void warranties if non-compliant tuners are utilized. In 2017, Harley entered a consent decree, filed by the United States EPA, that required them to cease the sale of all non-compliant EFI tuners. And, void warranties on those Harley’s with non-compliant EFI tuners. And yes, Harley is voiding warranties for non-compliant EFI tuners as are other motorcycle companies and auto manufacturers.
What Is An EPA-Compliant EFI Tuner?
Well, that’s not so clear, but we did some research and digging for you. Currently, we can find no credible list of “EPA compliant tuners”. I will mention that of course, Harley-Davidson has a Screamin' Eagle EPA-compliant EFI tuner that will not void your warranty. But, it doesn’t do much and we’ll talk about that in a moment.
So, this begs the overall question, is something like the Vance & Hines FuelPak EFI tuner EPA compliant, and will it void your Harley warranty? Well, we spoke directly to two Vance & Hines technicians today, and here’s what we learned. The FuelPak 3 (FP3) is not EPA compliant technically, because it allows you to tune non-EPA compliant engine upgrades such as cams and big bore kits. The FP3 will void your motorcycle warranty. But, Vance & Hines says the FP4 is EPA compliant and will not void your warranty. However, it will only allow you to tune up to a stage one upgrade, which means pipes and intake. It will not allow tuning for cams and big bore kits now or in the future.
Act Quickly If You Want A FuelPak 3:
We do sell the Vance and Hines FP3 and FP4 in the Law Abiding Biker store. With that said, you need to act very quickly if you want to get your hands on a Vance & Hines Fuelpak 3 for your 2014-2020 Harley before they’re gone forever. Many of the large stores are already out of them.
For all of you who own 2021 to current Harley’s, you can only use the FP4 as it has a different style plug.
We have stocked up with FP3’s right in the Law Abiding Biker Store for you and they are moving very quickly. It’s first come first serve and when they’re gone they’re gone forever.
If you have a 2014-2020 Harley and have ever thought about doing a future cam upgrade or big bore kit you’ll need the FP3. In fact, we just did a cam upgrade on a Milwaukee eight and used the FP3 to tune it, and afterward, the bike ran like a raped ape. The FP3 is a very capable tuner with many options and we’ve used them for years. We will be releasing a full detailed cam install tutorial video on our YouTube Channel, so make sure you're subscribed so you are notified as we release videos.
Also, the FP3 allows you to tune your bike right from your smartphone, unlike some other tuners. It is super intuitive and we already have a tutorial video on that. Maybe you just want to do a simple stage 1 upgrade with pipes and intake right now, well you can with the FP3 while also future-proofing yourself in case you want to do more.
And of course, if you want an FP4 we have those too in the store and they are plentiful. Also, if you’re a California resident, you’ll have to get the FP4 regardless. Customers in California can’t buy the FP3 and dealers can’t sell it to California residents. If you appreciate this video and all the content we put out to help the biker community, please consider purchasing right from the Law Abiding Biker Store, so we can continue to put out great content like this. Now for argument's sake & for a better understanding of how all this works, I’ll dive in a bit further.
A Further Breakdown:
Let's say you do an aftermarket muffler upgrade and have not installed an EFI tuner and your engine then has a failure. And, you take it to a Harley dealership, who decides to say that the mufflers caused it. Well, although the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act is behind you it may or may not help you. You see, in a situation like this, the burden of proof is completely on you as the consumer. You’d have to decide whether the cost is worth it. Because you’re the one that will have to find and hire an Attorney that may be willing to file a lawsuit.
Now, over the past years, we have had communications with Harley owners and particular dealerships conducting business like this in similar circumstances. I would say our local dealership and the vast majority were not doing this and following the rules. With that said, the FTC agreement included contact info to file a complaint with HD Headquarters and the FTC. You may find a resolution at this first step.
What Are Aftermarket Parts Manufacturers & Third-Party Shops Saying:
A statement from Vance and Hines CEO Mike Kennedy in an article said, “This action taken by the FTC is a huge win for motorcycle riders. While we still need to see how this plays out, we anticipate that riders will have more choices in how they repair and update their motorcycles during the warranty period, which is clearly a big deal for companies in the motorcycle aftermarket, too. I hope that the ‘it will void your warranty threat for someone who just wants a better sounding or smoother running Harley is a thing of the past.”
What Am I Going To Do?
I will simply buy the motorcycle without any extended warranty and ride it hard for a bit on the manufacturer's warranty until I’m comfortable that the bike is going to hold up. Then, I’ll immediately put any damn parts and tuners I want on it and ride it like I stole it. You decide what you’re going to do and let me know in the comments, Harley-Davidson reps do read them and so do we. And what does this mean for the overall future of power train upgrades for motorcycle consumers? Well, you’ll have to tune into the Law Abiding Biker podcast for our thoughts on that.